After a cold winter period like this January most of us have been less active, and perhaps slightly out of condition and stiffer. Therefore as we venture into the garden or take on some other more physical tasks here are a few tips to consider:
Do not rush jobs, and do not carry on too long. The temptation is always to do that little bit more… But how long? If last year you could spend a couple of hours in the garden without problems, start with 30 minutes before breaking off , and preferably going inside. If you are not too sore, then do another half an hour later. If you are not uncomfortable the next day you have established a ‘safe’ length of time. If you feel like you could have done more yesterday, then do so today, so do 60-90 minutes, maybe in blocks of 30-40 minutes.
There is often pressure to get the job done, since we can’t be sure the weather will stay dry! However, we see many people in Spring who have tried that bit too hard, precipitate pain and therefore have to hold off gardening even longer. Don’t let it be you.
Do not overstretch or lift too much
Think about how you are doing the task. Can you reach the bush from a different angle so you are stretching less? Are you wearing suitable clothing to protect you from spiky plants so that you can get closer? When lifting and carrying keep the weight close and don’t carry too much.
Warm up before starting
The aim is to get blood flowing through your muscles. This makes them more elastic. Rhythmic movement also ‘wakes up’ the nervous system and improves your coordination, helping reduce the risk when performing an unusual movement.
Stand and circle the hips slowly through a circle as possible (as if doing ‘hoola hoop’, but slowly!). Start with small movements and gradually increase the range within the comfort level. This encourages the movement of the spinal and hip joints and muscles without putting great strain on them.
Continue this for 1-2 minutes, until you feel the back has loosened up.
This can also be performed in only a side to side movement, rather than a circling movement but with increasing arching of the back.
Twisting movement (Worktop exercise)
Stand facing a kitchen worktop, close enough to touch the worktop directly in front of you. Reach with the right hand across to the left end of the worktop and touch it. Reverse this action and touch the left hand on the right end of the worktop. Repeat about 30 times. Once you are used to the exercise you do not need a worktop.
Do not overstretch. Start gently and at each repetition reach a little further. If the movement is uncomfortable at the end of range do not push through this but work within the comfortable range.
Perform the squat by reaching down the legs to attempt to reach the floor. Start by going part of the way within your easy reach (of your body) and repeat, gradually increasing the range of movement, eventually touching the floor. If the back is uncomfortable, start in the comfortable range. Repeat 30 times.
This will warm up the back and prepare you to reach to the floor.
Stand and reach above your head as high as possible and take a deep breath in. As you breath out bring your arms down. Repeat 10 times.